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The vast majority of us already know that stress can damage our health in a variety of ways, but what is perhaps less well-known is that stress can directly affect our eyes and even our vision.

Stress, caused by the frenetic pace of modern life and long working hours causes chemical and hormonal changes in our bodies that are the cause of a variety of pathologies. The ophthalmologic manifestations can vary depending on the degree of stress and on other individual factors.

One manifestation of stress that does not impact on our eyesight is myokymia. Many people call this a “tic” and it is caused by the involuntary movement of the muscles in the eyelids that causes spasms in the muscles located around the eyes. Getting sufficient rest and softly massaging the affected area can help to eliminate these tics.

Inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) associated with dry eyes can produce redness of the eyes, burning, itching, a feeling of eyestrain and even blurred vision. In this case it is necessary to carefully clean the skin of the eyelids and lubricate the eyes with artificial tears.

More severe cases of stress can cause macular disease (the most important area of the retina). This disease is called central serous chorioretinopathy and it can cause darkening of the central area of our vision, loss of visual acuity and a distorted or deformed perception of images. This disease often disappears with a reduction in stress levels without the need for other therapies, but in other cases it requires specific treatment from an ophthalmologist.

Should you have any of the symptoms described, trying to reduce your stress levels and visiting an ophthalmologist, will help to improve your visual health.

Dra. Mª Teresa Álvarez